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Pentecost Novena: Here’s how to pray the first novena

May 27, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
Duccio’s Pentecost (1308) / public domain

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The first novena ever prayed is the Pentecost Novena, or the Novena to the Holy Spirit. This year, it begins on Friday, May 27, and concludes on Saturday, June 4.

Catholics worldwide often recite the novena during the nine days that fall between the feast of the Ascension, when Christ rises body and soul to heaven, and the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Christ.

This year, Pentecost falls on June 5.

The prayer recalls and invites Catholics to participate in the nine days that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles spent in prayer after Christ ascended into heaven. Together, they prayed in Jerusalem in anticipation of the Holy Spirit’s coming, which Christ had promised them. 

The word “novena” is derived from the Latin word for nine. Catholics will frequently pray a novena — a prayer repeated once a day for nine days — for a particular intention. This novena asks for the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

There are many versions of this novena, including one derived from the “The Sanctifier” by Servant of God Luis Maria Martinez, Archbishop of Mexico from 1937 to 1956, and made available by the Daughters of St. Paul

The Archdiocese of Denver recommends the one below, adapted from novenas found on and  

End each day with the following prayer for all seven gifts:

O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven, promised to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, be pleased to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul the work of your grace and love.  Grant me the spirit of wisdom, that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal; the spirit of understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth; the spirit of counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven; the spirit of fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome all obstacles that oppose my salvation; the spirit of knowledge that I may know God and know myself in him; the spirit of piety that I may find the service of God sweet and pleasurable; the spirit of fear of the Lord that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to offend him.  Animate me in all things with your spirit.  Amen.

Day 1: Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit 

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,

from the clear celestial height,

thy pure beaming radiance give. 

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your divine love.  Send forth your spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.  O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may always be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Day 2: Prayer for the Gift of Holy Fear 

Come thou father of the poor,

come with treasures which endure,

come thou light of all that live. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set you, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend you, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of your Divine Majesty in heaven, where you live and reign in the unity of the Blessed Trinity, God, world without end.  Amen.

Day 3: Prayer for the Gift of Piety 

Thou of all consolers best,

visiting the troubled breast,

dost refreshing peace bestow. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart.  Implant in my soul filial love toward God my heavenly Father, and brotherly love for all, so that I may delight in the service of God and my neighbor.  Amen.

Day 4: Prayer for the Gift of Fortitude 

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,

pleasant coolness in the heat,

solace in the midst of woe. 

Come of blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from you, my God and greatest Good.  Amen.

Day 5: Prayer for the Gift of Knowledge 

Light immortal, light divine,

visit thou these hearts of thine,

and our inmost being fill. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for your glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to you and your eternal rewards.  Amen.

Day 6: Prayer for the Gift of Understanding 

If thou take thy grace away,

nothing pure in man will stay;

all his good is turned to ill. 

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in your light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of you, the Father, and the Son.  Amen.

Day 7: Prayer for the Gift of Counsel 

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;

on our dryness pour thy dew;

wash the stains of guilt away. 

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do your holy will.  Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil and direct me by the straight path of your commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long.  Amen.

Day 8: Prayer for the Gift of Wisdom 

Bend the stubborn heart and will,

melt the frozen, warm the chill,

guide the steps that go astray. 

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power, and beauty.  Teach me to love them above and beyond the passing joys and satisfactions of earth.  Help me to attain them and possess them forever.  Amen.

Day 9: Prayer for the Fruits of the Holy Spirit 

Thou on those who evermore,

thee confess and thee adore,

in thy sevenfold gift descend. 

Give them comfort when they die,

give them life with thee on high,

give them joys which never end. 

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with your heavenly gifts: your charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to your inspiration may merit to be united eternally with you in the love of the Father and the Son.  Amen.


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‘Made New’: Blessed Is She book explores Catholic women’s identity

February 3, 2022 Catholic News Agency 0
Nell O’Leary, managing editor of Blessed Is She. / Therese Westby

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Feb 3, 2022 / 11:01 am (CNA).

When Nell O’Leary sat down with her team to brainstorm a new book for Catholic women, she said they felt drawn to the theme of “identity.”

“This one kept coming back, this idea of identity, of who we are as Catholic women, made in God’s image and likeness,” O’Leary, the managing editor of Blessed Is She, told CNA. This identity, she said, gets battered by the world “with all these lies that you are what you look like, you are your social media following, you are how successful you are, you are how many kids you have.”

Instead, O’Leary says, every woman is unconditionally loved as a “beloved daughter of God.”

This message is central to Made New: 52 Devotions for Catholic Women, a weekly devotional released in December. The book houses personal stories from five writers associated with Blessed Is She (BIS), a “sisterhood” of Catholic women who desire to grow in their faith through prayer and community. Each of the five — O’Leary, Leana Bowler, Brittany Calavitta, Jenna Guizar, and Liz Kelly — focus on a theme under the umbrella of identity: beheld, belong, beloved, believing, and becoming. 

While their stories are different, their tone is consistent. Each writer engages the reader with the frank, casual tone of a friend who’s honest about her struggles, hopeful for the future, and, well, confident in her identity.

“I invite you to journey with me, dear sister, to walk through the next fifty-two weeks as we rediscover our value, our worth, and our identity in Our Lord’s eyes,” Guizar, the founder of BIS, writes in the book’s opening. “He is waiting for you and me, and He desires to be in relationship with us. All it takes is a response to His call: yes.”

Each week begins with a short reflection or personal story from one of the writers and concludes with a scripture passage and two questions for the reader to ask herself. Along the way, artwork interrupts the text to greet readers with dusty, muted colors and shapes. The rose-gold cover impresses a feminine touch, along with a pink ribbon bookmark. Leaves and plants adorn the pages, suggesting growth and life made new. 

Interior of Made New. Therese Westby
Interior of Made New. Therese Westby

A saint’s calling

If readers come away remembering one thing, O’Leary wants them to believe and remember that “there’s no one way, cookie-cutter way, to become a saint.”

“God is calling you personally, through the circumstances in your life, through the challenges, through the blessings, to grow in holiness in who you are and where you are,” she said. “And to compare yourself to other women and feel like you can’t measure up is simply not where you want to put your energies.”

Instead, she said, God is calling each woman — in her particular, unique life — to become a saint. 

Every woman is different, something that the five writers themselves demonstrate. According to O’Leary, they are not all just a “bunch of young moms.” One struggles with infertility, another married later in life, one started a family before marriage, and another has no children.  

“I think that however old the reader is, they will find part of their own story,” O’Leary said. “When we write [our stories], we want the reader to actually be able to contemplate and ponder… to kind of find their own story. So you’re not just consuming another person’s content, you’re actually looking at yourself too.”

One story particularly moved O’Leary (even though she compared picking her favorite to “picking a favorite flower”). She pointed to writer Liz Kelly, who shares with readers her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis toward the end of the book.

While Kelly originally “thought that meant her role would become really small,” God “used her in that time and in that diagnosis to broadcast his message even further than she thought,” O’Leary summarized. 

She added, “I think the reason I love that story so much is because where we see limitations, God just sees more opportunities for grace.”

Unconditional love

A theme in the book that O’Leary herself touches on is God’s unconditional love — that he loves you as you are right now, regardless of what you do or don’t do, regardless of how your family or friends treat you, regardless of your past or future. He loves you.

“I suppose people in general struggle with the idea of unconditional love because it’s so rarely manifest in our human interaction,” O’Leary said of accepting God’s love. “And so, because the human level of relationship in our lives are fraught with other imperfect people, to really trust in and experience God’s love takes this trust and this faith.”

Her first piece of advice for women who doubt God’s love or think they aren’t good enough is to visit the confessional.

“Get all those embarrassing sins off your chest,” she said. “The priest has heard it all … you can go behind the screen.”

“It’s nothing that’s too embarrassing to bring to the sacrament and really unload yourself of the burden of all those sins and experience God’s grace filling you,” she added. God’s unconditional love can get “so shrouded and clouded by my own, my own humanity, my own mistakes, my own sinfulness.”

Community and Covid

Another topic in the book — and a priority for Blessed Is She as a whole — is community. O’Leary addressed the challenges of community, particularly during the pandemic.

“Living in a global pandemic, so many things being more online, we just see that highlights reel…those drive those envy twinges of, ‘Her life looks perfect. She doesn’t have my struggles,’” she said. “Really puts in wedges in our sisterhood and we need our sisterhood.”

“When we can’t be together, it just starts to look like everyone has it together,” she added. “We don’t.” 

O’Leary advised women to read the free daily devotions offered by Blessed Is She. And delete social media apps off of their phones, even if just for the weekend.

“I know that our phones and the internet are wonderful for connecting us, but they’re also really toxic for making it feel more lonely,” she said. “Live the life that’s in front of you.”

The personal 

O’Leary talked about her personal life and her own struggle with identity. The fourth of five children, she said she grew up surrounded by high-achieving parents and siblings. While she thought that one day she might have a family, she worked toward becoming an attorney. She ended up marrying her “law school love” and worked as an attorney. Then, she became a stay-at-home mom. 

“Realizing that I had hung so much on my identity being what I did, and what the world could see and applaud, that becoming a mom and then eventually staying at home with our kids,” she said. “It’s such a hidden life.” 

“The children are not cheering you on, ‘You did a great job!’ there’s no affirmation, there’s no feedback other than the deep satisfaction I guess, that no one went to the ER,” she added.  

The experience changed her.

“What I realized that I had to have a big mentality shift from, I’m not what I do and I’m not what I accomplish and I’m not even how my children behave,” she said. “That really, in these hidden moments in prayer with God, to say, ‘I know I’m your beloved daughter. I know I’m made in your image and likeness.’”


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5 Angelic Prayers Everyone Should Know

October 1, 2021 Catholic News Agency 1
Detail of Adoration of an Angel by Fra Angelico, early 1400’s. / Wikimedia commons.

Denver Newsroom, Oct 2, 2021 / 00:30 am (CNA).

Oct. 2 is the feast day of the guardian angels, just three days after the feast of the archangels. These liturgical days provide a great reason to refresh your devotion to the angelic beings that surround us at every moment. These are five prayers that every Catholic should know and pray to increase their devotion to the guardian angels, the archangels, and the mysteries of faith they are so instrumental in communicating. 

  1. The Prayer to Your Guardian Angel. When traveling, in danger, or just for an everyday devotion, this prayer is a powerful way to call upon the super-intelligent and angelic beings assigned to each person at baptism to assist them on their journey to heaven. The guardian angels are an expression of God’s providence and His love. They can help enlighten one’s conscience, guard one from attacks of the devil and physical dangers, and guide them toward holiness. This prayer is a must-have in the arsenal of invocations for Catholics. 

  2. The Prayer to St. Michael. As Prince of the Heavenly Host, St. Michael is one of the two patron protectors of the Holy Church, a post he shares with St. Joseph. This prayer has special importance for the Catholic Church, therefore. It was ordered to be prayed after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass worldwide in response to a vision of Pope Leo XIII had of Satan attacking the Church. In recent years, Pope Francis has encouraged great devotion to this prayer. 

  3. The Chaplet of St. Michael. The chaplet of St. Michael is a prayer inspired by a vision of St. Michael to a Portuguese nun and Servant of God, Antonia d’Astonac, in the middle of the 18th century. The prayer has been indulgenced by the Church and is a devotion that honors the nine choirs of angels, not just St. Michael. According to the EWTN website, “St. Michael promised that whoever would practice this devotion in his honor would have, when approaching Holy Communion, an escort of nine angels chosen from each of the nine Choirs. In addition, for those who would recite the Chaplet daily, he promised his continual assistance and that of all the holy angels during life, and after death deliverance from purgatory for themselves and their relations.”

  4. The Angelus. The Angelus is the traditional prayer used to sanctify 6:00 a.m., noon, and 6:00 p.m. by calling to mind the moment of the Incarnation when Jesus Christ took human flesh in the womb of His mother Mary. It is built upon the angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary, includes three Angelic Salutations (the first half of the Hail Mary) and concludes with an invocation for the grace to follow Christ to His Passion and Resurrection. 

  5. The Angelic Trisagion. This prayer was composed after the founding of the Order of Trinitarians in 1198 A.D. and has been recited by them ever since. The prayer borrows from the scriptural understanding of how the angels praise the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before the throne of God in Heaven. Unlike the rosary, which has five decades, this prayer has three decades: one in honor of each person of the Blessed Trinity. This hymn of worship is a masterclass in how to give honor to God as the angels do.